Yusufali Fazalbhai Kassam Chinnai
Birthdate: February 10, 1909
Haji Yusufali Fazalbhai Kassam Chinnai was born on 10th February 1909 in Diegoswarez. He pursued his basic education in Gujrati and French in Deigoswarez and Majunga Schools. He also acquired his religious education over there. Since his childhood he was quite inclined towards religion and as he grew, his interest for religious studies increased. He has the good qualities of his late father Brother Fazal but the quality of religiousness is unique.
After completing his studies he then joined their family business. Later in 1927 he married the daughter of his paternal uncle Muhamadalibhai Kassam Chinnai in Diegoswarez. Yusufalibhai and Kulsumbai have since then been living and supporting each other as husband and wife. As time passed, his experience and wisdom increased. His interest for community services blossomed in around 1930.
1n 1931 he established “Kohi Noor Sports Club” in Majunga. He also served for 3 years as a president of Hindu Library in Majunga. Moreover Yusufalibhai served sincerely as the president of Majunga Jamaat from 1945- 1947.
In 1942 he established a Madrassa and took the responsibility of giving religious education and teaching Gujrati. He continued running this Madrassa up to 1949. He came across many hurdles and challenges but he remained strong and focused on his aim. He faced such problems and difficulties that only he can express it. These are his words; “As our community children were lacking in Gujrati, under my supervision a Madressa was established in 1942, this Madrassa was running smoothly until in 1949 when I went to perform Hajj. Despite of our own community children studying in a community owned warehouse under the guest house, (Musafirkhana) the Madrassa was charged to pay rent. The Jamaat was not sufficiently funding it thus the students had to pay fees and my paternal uncle Mohammedali Kassam from Diegos used to contribute on monthly basis. Furthermore the well wishers from town to town would contribute but the rivals would write to the well wishers and stop the donations. One person’s late wife whose insurance was given on such conditions that the Madrassa should not run under my supervision instead it should be handled by the Jamaat for which I disagreed because I was certain that the Madrassa if handled by the Jamaat, it will be closed down which actually happened in my absence. In 1949 when I left for Hajj I warned my brother Alimohammed about the Madrassa but unfortunately within no time, after my departure my brother was brainwashed and many rumors spread that due to the Bohora teacher who used to teach Gujrati, the pronunciation of our children is spoilt and he has no knowledge of Diniyat. Moreover the salary he gets can suffice to pay 4 Comorian Maalim thus the Bohora teacher was terminated within a month and the Madrassa closed down. When I returned in 1950 I got all the news and I was advised by the parents to restart the Madrassa once again to which I responded in the negative as I was disheartened and informed them that I have no benefit in running this Madressa! Neither do I have any of my own children who are educated nor do I benefit from this Madrassa. If this is how you value my services then I am very much displeased about it. Every year the same complain was brought, finally in 1960 I once again re-started the Madressa”.
The son’s etiquette is known from his upbringing, brother Yusufali’s personality was well known since his childhood.
In 1930 when the first time the maiden flight began from France to Majunga, brother Yusufali and Yusufali Nathoo were the only amongst the Indians to have the opportunity to be included in this flight.
For not having the “Waqf act” in Madagascar, so many properties of the community could not be registered on the Jamaat’s name. Long ago whilst registering the properties, some of the community elders unanimously registered them on a “Res Posa Billiteli Society Ltd” which was registered on the names of Nathoo Premji, Brother Kassam Kachra, Brother Merali Bhallo and Brother Hasham Rajpar. The people on whose names these properties were registered had all passed away thus the properties remained without owners. Brother Yusufali who was concerned, struggled through advocate’s assistance to regain all these properties officially and registered them on the society’s name.
In 1949 Brother Yusufali was awarded by the Late Saed Ali Bin Sultan’s heir Prince Saed Ashwal Zaki, a title of “Shewaalie dhe letwaall Dhela Grant Comorona” in lieu of arranging and preparing for all the pilgrims to go for the annual Hajj ritual.Later in 1954 the same monarchy presented him with a second title “Commodher dhe letwaal Grant Comor”.
In 1960 Brother Yusufali was re-elected as the president of Jamaat. During his term, due to his socializing nature and devotion a historical event took place in Majunga Jamaat. In 1961 all the Madagascar Jammat’s conferences were held in Majunga which earned it a good name.
The delegation of the Federation of Khoja Shia Ithnasheri Jamaats of Africa visited Madagascar on the invitation of Majunga Jamaat. Due to the hard work and effort of the deputation and of the Jamaat , Madagascar united with the Africa Federation and strengthened itself. Brother Yusufali had tirelessly worked with sincere efforts and he always accompanied the delegation throughout their trip. By the Grace of Almighty he used to succeed in all his endeavors.
Brother Yusufali was the main initiator of building the guest house in Tananarive and the first person to contribute for this project was none other than his spouse Begum Saheba.
The religious quality in Brother Yusufali was inherited from the Chinnai family which can be proved from the collection of religious books found in his personal library.
Brother Yusufali’s spouse Begum Saheba was invocating to Bibi Sakina for bearing a child and had vowed to visit the shrine once the wish is granted and Alhamdulillah a baby girl was born to her on 6th of August 1950 and named Shamimunnisa.
Translated by: F. Ali.
Extracted from: Community Directory 1964.ED